According to an opinion piece by Rough&Polished's Sergey Goryainov, the Russian State Repository may be in the process of buying US$ 1 billion worth of (rough) diamonds from Alrosa, the Russian mining giant, to alleviate the pressure on the company as the industry suffers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The author believes that what he describes as a "bailout" for both the industry and Alrosa by the Gokhran is inevitable and necessary move.
In a virtual preview, Rio Tinto has showcased its 2020 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, entitled One Lifetime, One Encounter, one of the last of a series of annual tenders held since the exceptionally rare pink, violet and blue diamonds were first discovered in the Western Australian Argyle mine in 1979. This year's tender features 2.24ct Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond, named Argyle Eternity, the largest Fancy Vivid round brilliant ever offered at the tender.
Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Signet Jewelers CEO Gina Drosos is rolling out the Path to Brilliance transformation which focuses on dramatically changing the customer experience by bringing it into the digital world, with virtual appointments, Live experts and events and tying into customers' personal social media channels. The transformation process, which had been initiated before the pandemic, also aims to maximize on current trends focusing on value, values and trust consumers place in Signet's brands with an omnichannel approach.
In a press release, Antwerp-based HB Company, announces that Boaz Lev, top man at diamond shipping and logistics firm Malca Amit for the past twelve years, is joining the company as one of its managing partners.
With the announcement of the cancellation of the November GemGenève Show, it seems like the last international offline trade show is now officially off the calendar. Today, Informa Markets issued a release that states "Jewellery & Gem WORLD Hong Kong (JGW) goes virtual for 2020", with the traditional trade fair resuming in September 2021.
After major miners De Beers and Alrosa announced price cuts, Bloomberg reports that the combined sales of their recent long-term client sales amounted to US$500 million, in stark contrast with the near-zero sales of the past six months, as the pandemic broke out and both companies decided to maintain pricing but maximize flexibility to their clients to defer contract purchases.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, in the 2nd half of 2020, De Beers' sales could rebound to US$1.6 billion, a recovery they believe will be driven by the holiday season, traditionally a strong sales period. The miner, for 85% owned by Anglo American, clocked an EBITDA of only US$2 million in the first half of the year, as De Beers' sales of rough diamonds dropped to nearly zero due to the global pandemic.
In a communication to its clients, Petra Diamonds has announced it will be charging its India-based clients an additional 2.041% on purchases through its Online Bidding Platform as well as on purchases made through Petra's other branches (Petra Diamonds Ltd and Petra Diamonds Belgium).
Gem Diamonds announced the recovery of a massive 442ct Type II rough at its Letšeng mine in Lesotho, one of the larger high quality stones recovered this year. The discovery is welcome news at a time when the global pandemic is putting a lot of strain on the global diamond industry, miners in particular. The London listed company's stock jumped 10.7% as the news came out. "A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this diamond will be used to fund a special community project, as agreed with our partners the Government of Lesotho", Clifford Elphick CEO of Gem Diamonds commented.
Figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre on the first six months of the year indicate that in terms of value, trade in the world’s diamond trade hub halved as a consequence of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond and jewelry business.
According to figures released by the GJEPC, India's rough imports plummeted to 82% in the period between April and July, as a consequence of the global pandemic as well as a voluntary ban on rough imports that was implemented for several months. In value, rough imports decreased sharply from US$ 4 billion to US $712 million, while polished exports fell 47% to US$ 2.7 billion (compared to US$ 5 billion year-on-year).
Tiffany & Co announced it will be detailing the entire journey of each and every diamond in one of their jewels, complete from mine to finished jewelry piece, in a "full craftsmanship journey". In a dedicated certificate, for each stone, Tiffany will tell the story of the diamond's origin, where it was cut and polished, graded and set and in which circumstances. The company believes that by doing so, they will not only tap into consumer demands for transparency, but as an iconic brand also aims to create awareness and inspire others to bring about broader change.
ABN AMRO, the Dutch bank, is closing its Hong Kong diamond business as part of a global trimming of the bank's operations, predominantly outside of Europe. In 2018, ABN AMRO already shut down its US and Dubai diamond operations. A few months ago, the bank reported a net loss of 395 million euros, the first loss in years, and announced it would be reviewing its strategy.
In his latest blog, industry analyst Edahn Golan isn't sugarcoating the message, the diamond industry is suffering as the pandemic is exacerbating the long-term downward trend of polished wholesale prices as well as the steep decline in jewelry share of wallet.
A recent survey, conducted by De Beers, gauging consumer sentiment among 2,800 men and women aged 20 to 65 with household incomes of at least US$75k or similar parameters in the US, India and China, concludes that while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh heavy on sentiment, respondents feel they are returning to (a new) normal and regaining confidence, with the most positive feedback coming from Chinese respondents.
Alrosa today announced that the company has mined the largest Russian, natural colored rough diamond to date, a 236ct stone of intense yellow-brown color, from its Ebelyakh mine in Yakutia, Russia. The stone is sent Alrosa's research center where it will be studied to decide whether the company will sell it as a rough or cut it in-house. It is not the first time natural colored diamonds are discovered at the alluvial diamond deposit, located on the Anabar River of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).
Following the success of the Online Diamond Trade Show, held earlier this year, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Israeli Diamond Institute (IDI), have re-joined forces to host a second edition of the show from the 14th till the 17th of September. The 'virus-free trade show' will take place on VDB Expo, a platform for conferences and trade shows created by and powered by Virtual Diamond Boutique.
First Element Diamonds Services recently held the Jagersfontein Developments and Rooipoort Developments tender which concluded on Friday the 7th of August at the Antwerp Tender Facility. According to the company, the tender was exceptionally well attended and delivered strong results. Both of the mines offered their full Run of Mine productions which consisted of everything from Special +10.8Ct stones down to Melee goods.
An estimated 1.5 million people around the globe earn a livelihood through artisanal diamond mining, commonly refered to as "diggers", but some people search for diamonds on the bottom of rivers, diving into the water and scooping up river soil. In this short clip, Laurent Cartier allows us a glimpse behind the scenes of the artisanal diamond divers on the Sewa river in Sierra Leone.
Alrosa, the Russian mining giant says it is close to finalizing a deal in which the Gokhran, the Russian State Repository will buy a significant volume, ranging between US$500 million and US$1 billion, worth of diamonds. “It’s a question of state-government support to our company,” Evgeny Augurev, Alrosa's Vice CEO commented, “And not only to our company, but to the whole industry.”
According to data from Edge Pulse, The Edge Retail Academy's aggregated jewelry sales data platform, US independent jewelers' uptick in sales in June is continued and even amplified in July, with a 10% increase in gross sales. Remarkably, diamonds are driving the improved sales trend, with a 16% increase in gross sales and 19% in the amount of units sold in July.
Rapaport reports that their price index shows polished prices have improved in July, as a reduction in diamond supply, on both rough and polished side, are causing supply shortages for certain goods. The RAPI index for 1ct diamonds was up 1.9%, which Rapaport claims is boosted by increased demand from investors for high-end, D - IF stones. Year to date, the index fell 4.8%. Rapaport believes that in the long run, the need for more efficiency in supply and demand, enabled by technological innovations will result in a more profitable trade.
According to MiningMX, GEM Diamonds, operating the high-quality diamond yielding Letšeng mine in Lesotho, halved its net debt to $5.5 million (compared to $10.1 million at the end of 2019) as a result of improving efficiency and successfully reducing costs, such as management salary cuts that remain in place, as well as higher than expected sales results, with an average of $1,707 per carat in the first half of the year.
Alrosa, the world's largest diamond producer and Brilliant Earth, the retailing company that focuses on responsibly sourced fine jewelry including natural and lab-grown diamonds, have partnered for an exclusive jewelry collection under Alrosa's "Diamonds That Care" campaign. The pieces, ranging in price from $790 to $2,190, are made of recycled gold and include natural brownish diamonds mined in the Russian Yakutia region.
After months of a virtual standstill in most of India's polishing industry, the Indian diamond industry trade bodies say polishing activity in Surat is now at 20-30% capacity, and they are no longer calling on the local manufacturing sector to voluntarily ban imports of rough diamonds.
At its Annual General Meeting presentation, Lucapa, the Australian company operating two of the world's highest $ per carat diamond mines, Lulo in Angola (alluvial) and Mothae in Lesotho (kimberlite), sized up the effects of the COVID pandemic on the company's operations and performance.
Despite the global pandemic and the challenges it poses on the diamond industry at large, Rio Tinto, owner of the Argyle mine in Australia and partial (60%) owner of the Diavik mine in Canada, has continued to produce and market its rough diamonds. By implementing health and safety measures at the mines, as well as support programs for local communities, Rio Tinto managed to keep the mines operational. Via its Antwerp office, the only diamond hub that remained open for business throughout the crisis, the miner also recently held a Rio Tinto Specials Tender.
The Gemological Institute of America and IBM Research today announced they are partnering to develop an advanced artificial intelligence system, based on data from tens of millions of stones graded by GIA, to grade one of the diamond "4C's", clarity. The partnership is another step in GIA's move into digital transformation of its grading operations. The system, currently deployed in the NY and Carlsbad GIA labs initially focuses on the most popular sizes and cuts, but will gradually be scaled up to more sizes, shapes and qualities, the statement reads.
The COVID pandemic, so much is clear, is far from over, and continues to put pressure on the global economy. Sales of personal, aspirational luxury items are taking a hit, but for the super rich, the Financial Times reports, that doesn't necessarily mean they are spending less. The so-called "ultra high net worth individuals" have shifted consumption patterns, from spending on high-end travel and restaurants, to buying real estate closer to home and exclusive items, from paintings over autographed sneakers to exlusive diamonds and jewellery pieces online.
Chinese retailer Luk Fook has announced a 71% drop in sales in the first fiscal quarter, with largest same-store sales declines in Hong Kong and Macau (76%). Of the company's self-operated stores, a large proportion is located in Hong Kong and Macau (60) compared to the amount of shops in Mainland China and other locations (118). Hong Kong, a popular destination for luxury shopping tourists, has been under continued restrictions, such as a compulsory 14-day quarantine, as wel as renewed outbursts of civil unrest.
Bloomberg reports that in a letter to De Beers' staff, seen by Bloomberg News, the company's CEO, Bruce Cleaver, has communicated the company is looking into ways to reduce costs and increase revenue across all operations. Sales have dropped dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic and the company fears demand for diamonds is not likely to improve in the short term. According to Bloomberg, insiders believe the restructuring could also involve job cuts and changes to the traditional selling system of sights and sightholders.
In a recent update on the website of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, published Wednesday July 22, COVID-19 restrictions for foreigners traveling to Hong Kong have been prolonged to the end of the year, Dec 31st and are likely to remain in place until that date, considering across the globe, including in Hong Kong, the number of cases has been rising in the past weeks.
For the sixth sight of the year, De Beers will continue to offer their clients the possibility to view goods in Antwerp and also Dubai, starting on Monday. Alrosa announced earlier this week it will drop mandatory buyout minimum requirements for the July sale, also starting on Monday, and as of August, the volumes will be reduced to 50% leaving clients the option to purchase additional goods via auctions and tenders.
During its latest specials tenders, held in Alrosa's Antwerp and Israel local offices, Russian miner Alrosa sold 156 special size (10.8ct+) rough diamonds, combined weight of 2,416 carats for a total amount of $6.8 million, $4.1 million of which was achieved in Antwerp, $2.7 million in Israel.
The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and RESOLVE, both pioneers in the field of artisanal and small-scale mining and the responsible sourcing of conflict minerals (diamonds, gold, cobalt and 3T), have announced they will be joining forces, merging the experience of both organizations to bolster conflict-free sourcing, KP Compliance, climate and biodiversity commitments and economic development of local communities under the name DDI@ RESOLVE. DDI's current Executive Director, Ian Rowe, will take the seat of DDI@ RESOLVE director, guiding the transition of the partnership.
Gibb River Diamonds, the company holding the lease on the Ellendale mine in West Kimberley since December 2019, welcomes a recent drop in royalty rate - from 7.5% to 5% - by Western Australia authorities. The Ellendale mine, which in the past produced 50% of the world's typical fancy yellows for Tiffany & C° hasn't produced diamonds since 2015, when former owner Kimberley Diamonds decided to only focus on their Botswana project.
According to Africa Intelligence, for the first time in 45 years, Ivory Coast could be at the brink of restarting diamond mining at four concessions, around the town of Séguéla, owned by company Transactysglasol, with trading office Glasol in Antwerp, headed by new CEO and French national Nicolas de Lesguern. According to Africa Intelligence, production is scheduled to start in November, when the semi-industrial mining sites are operational. In recent years, the country barely produced any rough diamonds, representing 0.02% of global rough diamond production.
Firestone Diamonds is extending the temporary closure of the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho, until April 2021 or until the market improves. Firestone slashed salaries and has let go most of the workers operating at the mine, which is Firestone's main asset. The company's BK11 operation in Orapa region Botswana, has been under care and maintenance for several years.
In an in-depth piece, Forbes' Pamela N. Danziger concludes that while official statistics on (diamond) jewelry consumption in the COVID era are scarse, the likely negative effect of the pandemic in the short and medium turn has caused two rivalling segments, the natural and LGD diamond industries, to have ceased hostilities.